The Illusive “Window of Opportunity”

The illusive “window of opportunity”

“A window of opportunity is a short time period during which an otherwise (seemingly) unattainable opportunity exists.”

Window of opportunity… interesting term which most people envision as an opening in a dark plane which will allow them to gain whatever they need at the time the window opens.  This “window of opportunity” is something that is rarely offered, never actually ‘given’ and almost invariably earned by searching for it.  However, without awareness it will pass by unnoticed.

The term “Opportunity only knocks once” is a total misnomer, at least insofar as this dissertation is concerned.  One can fashion such a window easily with proper mental attitude and conditioning.

Related to a violent conflict, or fight situation, the window of opportunity is almost always fleeting and appears for only fractions of seconds, if at all.  Unless you can stay reasonably calm and somewhat confident, analyze what is actually going on, and deal with it even under bad conditions, you may never see this ‘window”.

Windows of opportunity sometimes just “appear” amidst the chaos and violence and you must be able to recognize and take advantage of them.  By the same token, amidst the same chaos and violence, if you maintain focus and control of your mindset you can actually create or force these ‘windows’.  I believe that looking for them would be futile in the midst of a violent confrontation.  Recognizing them, however, is survival at its best.

In reality, in violent conflicts there are typically many of these “windows” regardless of their typically short time frame.  One must be well trained, extremely focused and blatantly aware of all things around him to even have a chance of seeing it in time.  And even at that, one absolutely must act on it instantly.

Reality and experience tells us that in a tense or dramatic situation where we are faced with surviving, we cannot just “tough it out”, we must stay in control of our actions, avoid succumbing to “tunnel vision” and hope that the window of opportunity will present itself before it is too late.   Conversely we must often actually create a window of opportunity to give us the impetus we need to survive and end the conflict.  (Notice that the term ‘win’ is not included in this dialogue…..In a life or death or similar conflict nobody actually wins…..(We are not discussing sport fighting here.)  With luck, training and skill, the defender will simply survive).

Remember also that the most important weapon in a real life self defense situation is your mind.  (No pun intended but think about it).

A Few Situations which rarely offer a window of opportunity:

Going totally on defense
Stopping mid-attack (to see how you are doing, to take a break, etc.)
“Chasing” a technique which has begun to not work as anticipated
Stopping after attacking to see how you are doing
Failing to totally focus on the job at hand (letting yourself get distracted)

A Few Situations which can impact or create an ‘opportunity’:

Pre-Emptive Strike
Balance Break
Doing exactly the opposite of what the aggressor expects
Sudden or unexpected movement of either party
Sudden noise or light
Intrusion by another party
Reaching for a weapon
Distractions of any kind
Inflicting sudden and intense pain, if only for a fraction of a second
Moving your assault (strikes) from one side to the other, high to low and continuing random changes to keep the aggressor disoriented
Not letting the aggressor “fight his fight” but making him deal with “your fight”. He wants to be on offense (definition of aggression)….Force him to be on defense….He is a grappler so keep him standing and fighting, he is a boxer so kick him, etc.

One very simplistic example of how you can create a window of opportunity involves understanding a bit of physiology.  For example, if you strike an opponent pretty much anywhere in the groin area (with a knee, fist, chop or anything at all) suddenly and unexpectedly his hips and midsection will jerk back to some extent and his upper body will bend or drop forward to some extent.  Contrary to conventional “wisdom” (i.e., TV, movies, etc.) the exact target is not important or critical.  To me the “groin area” includes the groin itself, entire pubic area AND the quad muscles of the upper thigh (front or side).  You will get, to one extent or another, the same or a very similar reaction.  If you instinctively know this, the other guy’s head will, at least for an instant, be in a position where you can push or knock it downward, execute a forearm strike to the back of his neck (dangerous but sometimes necessary), an elbow or knee strike to the side of his head or even to his kidney area if you or he moves to the side a bit.  The key is that you instinctively know what to expect so you execute the strike and at the same time scan for targets.  They will be there….You just have to select one in a fraction of a second and don’t take the time to think….Just do it and follow up with more as needed.

In spite of what some people I have great respect for say, I am totally convinced that you do not have to be a great actor to verbally distract an aggressor. It only takes confidence, surprise and offering the unexpected, then instantly following up on it.

Obviously the best scenario is to walk away at some point but if you can’t do the and can’t diffuse the situation or even if you are ‘ambushed’ or surprised, an innate understanding of that the other guy’s body is destined to do given a particular strike target can give you a very large window of opportunity.  As always, I do not ever promote specific pinpoint targeting.  Target a general area and be happy about it.  These conflicts are always dynamic and both parties will be in motion.  Targeting specific “points” like pressure points, etc., is asking for trouble and hoping for a massive amount of good luck.  Luck and Murphy’s Law are usually opposites.

Hal Herndon (June 2018)